Remote Inspection

High quality data about nuclear environments is essential to accurately plan for dismantling and decommissioning, as well as monitoring and maintaining sites.

The Remote Inspection Working Group (RIWG) focuses on developing robotic and AI technology for both the characterisation of unknown nuclear environments, and change or anomaly detection of previously characterised environments. Regular testing and feedback from industrial partners is helping the working group shape their solution for remote inspection.

We are continuing to build collaborative relationships with challenge owners. In particular, we are seeking further inspection sites or challenges that could be addressed using this platform and capability. Research priorities include integrating information from 3D data sources and further sensor types, and developing tools for anomaly and change detection of previously inspected sites.

The RIWG demonstrator

The RIWG demonstrator has been constructed based on feedback from members of the working group and RAIN researchers. It is built on a Clearpath Husky 4 wheeled robotic platform. There are 3 x Hoyoku UTM-30LX LIDARs, for navigation and safety, a Skull Canyon Intel NUC computer and Red Pitaya FPGA board for signal processing. An FLIR D48 pan-tilt unit carries: a FLIR Tau 2 thermal camera with Workswell mounting unit, a SICK TIM571 LIDAR, and a detector and collimator that is interchangeable with a Kromek GR1. Hardware components can be changed according to the requirements. The RIWG has done a lot of development on the software.

These include:

  • ROS and Clearpath packages, for drivers, localisation, and navigation
  • RViz including custom plugins, for visualisation of robot data and inspection outputs
  • Robust topological navigation and task execution (from the EU STRANDS project)
  • ROS radiation message type for use across a range of detectors
  • ROS node to bridge Red PItaya signal processing to ROS
  • Pointcloud painter software that builds a composite pointcloud from input LIDARS and combines it with outputs from RGB, thermal and radiation sensors
  • Mission Control software for managing software at runtime

Key Outputs

  • Integrated RAIN outputs with state-of-the-art components to create the RAIN Remote Inspection demonstrator.
  • Requirements for demonstrator refined during meetings between industry partners and RAIN researchers.
  • RIWG hackathons in Bristol and Oxford used to integrate components.
  • First version tested summer 2019 in Bristol, completing a visual and gamma inspection of a NORM source from a stationary platform.
  • Subsequent developments led to inspection from a mobile, autonomous platform, with trials in Oxford.
  • Most recently, inspections carried out in a UK waste drum store.

Future Progress

We will continue building collaborative relationships with challenge owners. In particular, we are seeking further inspection sites or challenges that could be addressed using this platform and capability. Research priorities include integrating information from 3D data sources and further sensor types, and developing tools for anomaly and change detection of previously inspected sites.

Take a look at our technologies here!

RAIN WEBINAR 24TH SEPT 2020: REMOTE INSPECTION WORKING GROUP

00:00 Nick Hawes: An overview of some of the developments made by the RAIN Remote Inspection Working Group over the last two years, and plans for future deployments of mobile autonomous inspection robots.

53:15 Live demonstration of a wheeled robot performing a remotely operated mock inspection mission, using technology jointly developed by the UKRI Robotics and AI hubs, under their new “digital tissue” initiative.